Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cranberry Quince Sauce


My dining room table is covered with cookbooks and old issues (sniff) of Gourmet magazine (love those Thanksgiving editions!). All are open to various recipes I have made in the past or want to try for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. For a few evenings now I’ve had to gather the stacks and move them so we can eat dinner. The books then quickly return to spread out again as I make my menu and shopping list. So many tempting choices for this one festive meal ... why can’t Thanksgiving be eight days long like Hanukkah?

I love trying creative twists on traditional favorites. Cranberry sauce lends itself well to experimenting. Cooked or raw, spiced or simple, cranberries are amazingly versatile and it’s always fun to mix in different flavors and textures.


Something new in my fridge are quinces that I picked up on impulse at the market. I haven’t cooked with quinces before and decided it was time. Quinces are in the same family as apples and pears, but unlike those the quince needs to be peeled and cooked first before eaten (according to what I’ve read, roasted, baked and poached are all good methods). The quince is hard and bland when raw, but when given some heat it transforms into a soft, floral, delicious fruit and the flesh becomes a rosy pink blush (they are high in pectin, as well, so I may try making quince jam this fall!).

When simmered in apple cider, the chopped quinces became fragrant and sweet and I could easily have stopped there and spooned some over pancakes. But I wanted cranberry sauce, so I poured in my fresh cranberries, some honey and maple syrup and started stirring. The lovely pop of cranberries soon began, and as they bubbled away a jewel-toned sauce emerged. I tasted a bit and was pleased with the results – tart with just the right touch of sweetness plus some added texture from the softened quince.


This is a quick sauce to make and cranberry flavor shines. In addition to your Thanksgiving table (or your turkey sandwiches), this would be terrific adorning a cheese plate.

Cranberry Quince Sauce
Makes 2 cups

2 quinces, peeled, cored and diced small
1 cup unfiltered apple cider
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon maple syrup

In a medium sized sauce pan, combine the diced quince and apple cider and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the quince pieces are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the cranberries, honey and maple syrup and increase the heat to medium. Stir often and let cook until it thickens into a saucy texture, about 10-15 minutes. You’ll hear the lovely pop of cranberries! Watch closely to make sure it doesn’t start to stick or burn and lower heat if necessary. I like to make sure some of the cranberries stay whole for added texture. Remove from heat and let cool. Keep in the fridge for up to a week.

18 comments:

  1. Quince is brilliant! I'm going to try that next.

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    1. I hope you enjoy it, Lynda! I've had a few extra quinces so have been cooking them and adding to other dishes - so fun to discover something new.

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  2. What a beautiful idea! I had my first experience with quince last year and those puppies are sour! What more natural pairing than cranberries?!

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    1. Thank you, Brooke! Have you done any cooking with quince since first tasting it? I'd love to make more with quince - I should probably read that chapter in Nigel Slater's Ripe!

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    2. No, but I do understand that traditionally they are made into jams and jellies with other fruits... The killer thing about quince is the fragrance. I wish there was a way to bottle it and get it into a cookie...

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    3. Yes!! The floral fragrance is wonderful - maybe I'll just cook some to scent the kitchen!

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  3. My table is the same, cookbooks and clippings everywhere. I never thought to add quince to the cranberry sauce. What a lovely idea!! I think the quince would go beautifully. I usually do the same thing every year, cranberry made with fresh orange juice and its really good but this sounds really wonderful and a great change from my usual. Happy Thanksgiving! I also wish it could last longer than one day its my favorite holiday.

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    1. Cranberry sauce with orange juice is delicious - cranberries and orange pair so well together. I hope you're having fun with your menu planning! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday to cook for, closely followed by Passover - and fortunately that one lasts a week!

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  4. You did a fantastic job with giving a classic a very yummy twist. Thanks for sharing, it sounds so good.

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    1. Thank you, Nancy! Lots of fun to try new ideas. I'm happy you stopped by! :)

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  5. What a cool idea! I really like that you used apple cider in this recipe. I tried cooking with quince once last winter, and I'm anxious to try it again.

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    1. Thanks, Brianne! What did you try with quince? I'd like to make more with it, too.

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  6. I think 8 days of Thanksgiving would be a fantastic idea! I also get overwhelmed with all the recipes out there that I want to try for the holiday. Its so hard to settle on just a few. This cranberry sauce sounds so interesting and different. Another recipe to add to the list!

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    1. Wouldn't 8 days of Thanksgiving be terrific? There are some recipes I only make once a year for Thanksgiving dinner, so don't want to mess with those. But then there are so many more dishes to ponder and drool over...doesn't help that I just picked up a new magazine today and started marking pages. :)

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  7. I've heard about quince before but never tried using it in my cooking (or maybe I have never tried tasting it too). I didn't grow up with Thanksgiving culture so everything is sort of new (and my way... :)). I'd love to taste this sauce!

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    1. I hope you enjoy the sauce if you make it, Nami! And I recommend you give quince a try - it's quite delicious and I love how it transforms with cooking. I'm sure you are creating some delicious Thanksgiving traditions in your family!

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  8. Thanks for the recipe, Hannah. I have a bowl full of quince sitting on my dining table waiting ever so patiently for me to figure out what to do with them! This is a new fruit for me. Quince, cranberry, and apple sound like a wonderful combination!

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    1. Let me know what you think, Karen - they were new to me, too, and I'm excited to try more with them. Quinces are supposed to be terrific in jam, so knowing your jam making skills I think you would create a wonderful one. :)

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